Thursday, November 16, 2017

Isaac Salisbury of Maine Ski Family takes a trip to Sunday River on 11/16/17

Isaac Here! No this is not Mike this time on the blog.

I took the day off and made the trip from Thomas College to Sunday River to get some more early
season turns on the mountain. Ask my family, they think i’m crazy. I think that too. But there’s nothing like some buttery turns and some rail slides on a weekday.


Conditions were good in the morning with a fresh half inch of snow falling. This made the groomers decent for November skiing. It was Frozen Granular, but my Volkl Kinks held up marvelously. As the day went on the snow changed to sleet and freezing rain, then to all rain at the base. I tried to get the GoPro fired up for at least one run, but the battery was not charged.


The Terrain Park crew hooked us up with some stellar features for the upcoming weekend that I got to test out before the good park skiers got to it. It is approved by me!


Overall it was a great day trip to cure my skiing fever. See you on the slopes!


-Isaac (Boy #1)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017-18 Maine Ski Season Off and Running!

Sugarloaf Opening Day - Tote Road Trail
Photo Credit Sarah Sindo / Sugarloaf.com
After an unbelievably warm September & October it appears November is back to a more typical weather pattern and the big Maine mountains are making snow and opening lifts & terrain. Both Sugarloaf and Sunday River got their lifts spinning last weekend and are off to a good start. Some of our favorite smaller hills like Lost Valley, Shawnee Peak, Mt. Abram, Black Mountain of Maine, Big Rock and others are testing snow guns and making preparations to open later on this winter. The @MaineSkiFamily crew are are utilizing Boyne Silver, Millennial and College season passes again this year. We will get a bunch of ski-days in at Sugarloaf, but on our blacked-out days we will be sure to visit some of the smaller hills we love to visit each year.

Ski swap season is in full-swing. There are still swaps left to go but they wrap up by early December. Check out my 2017 ski-swap page for all the details on swaps near you. Ski-swaps are my go to place for extra ski poles to get me through the ski season... as I am bound to break one or two.

The Ski Maine Association is holding a 2017 ski season launch party this Thursday, November 16 in Portland at the US Custom House Building. The event runs from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Shipyard Brewing Company will offer samples of some of their best beers, a chance to meet with your favorite Maine ski area and a silent auction with fantastic prizes. Should be a fun time with the Portland Maine Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department Payson Park Snowmaking Fund benefiting from the $25 per person admission.

One of my favorite on-mountain volunteer groups out there is the Angry Beavers of Black Mountain Maine. This group is charged with the maintenance and creation of the gladed terrain at Black. This has turned this fun trail cruiser mountain into a great all day excursion for skiers of all abilities. There are some fantastic glades here and the Angry Beaver crew does an awesome job providing this terrain for the mountain guests. I am looking forward to checking out the new East Bowl glade this winter! I highly encourage you to visit Black. Great lodge, friendly people and great skiing.

Saddleback Maine view from Saddleback Lake
Photo Credit: Kyle Haley Photography
And of-course there is the on-going ownership situation at Saddleback. Back in June, 2017 the Majella Group entered into an agreement to purchase Saddleback and get the mountain ready to open again. I advised at the time in a blog post that this is going to take time and we will have to be patient. I appear to be right on both fronts. The deal has not closed yet, and any skiing that happens this year will be very limited. It appears significant work is being done on-mountain and off and we are just going to have to see how this all shakes out. Unless we have a few spare million dollars hanging around that we don't know what to do with... all any of us can really do is to be supportive as possible and hope for the best. I really do hope this turns out positively for the current and future owners, the employees, the condo owners, the Rangeley area businesses and the skiers that would love to call Saddleback home again. Keep an eye on the Saddleback Facebook page for announcements and new developments.

It's a great time of year! Ski season is upon us! Get out there and enjoy all that the Maine mountains have to offer.

Friday, October 6, 2017

2017 Maine Ski Swaps

Last updated November 25, 2017


Here is the 2017 edition of the @MaineSkiFamily ski swap guide. Over the past years, I have
posted dates, times and locations of Maine based ski swaps and I am doing the same this year. It is by far the most popular page on my blog so please use this listing guide and spread the word! If there is a swap that you know of missing from the list please comment below or email me

The Ski Swap Line - A sign of winter to come!
If you are new to ski swaps, you can read my post on Ski Swap Strategies.

To stay up to date on all things Maine skiing, please like my Facebook Page You can also follow me on Twitter for skiing and other ramblings.

Happy Swapping!

OCTOBER
7th - 9th - Ski Depot in Jay and Happy Tunes in Carrabassett Valley are having holiday weekend tent sales. Not a ski swap but lots of gear at sale prices.

14th - The Central Maine Ski Club is holding their first ever ski swap from 9AM - 3PM at the George Mitchell School in Waterville. Click here for more info.

14th - The Penobscot Valley Ski Club is holding a Ski Swap / Sale at Bangor Parks & Rec from 9AM - 4PM. Click here for more info.

27th - 28th - The Bethel Outing Club is having their 36th annual a ski swap  / sale over two days at the Gould Academy Field House. Click here for more info.

27th - 28th - Freeport Ski & Bike is having their annual tent sale. Not a swap but lots of gear at great prices.

29th - The Cape Elizabeth Alpine Team is holding a ski swap 9AM - Noon at the Middle School Cafeteria. Contact jdavis@capeelizabethschools.org for more info and the ski swap poster can be found by clicking here

NOVEMBER
4th - The Freeport Ski Boosters will have a swap from 9:30am - 12:30pm in the Freeport High School Gym. Again this year Sport Thoma will be participating. Click here for more info.

4th - All Speed Cyclery and Snow in Portland has a swap Nov 4th. Seller proceeds can either be check or store credit. Sales starts 10am. Click here FMI.

5th - Brunswick Park and Recreation 49th Annual Ski Sale will be at Brunswick Landing from 1pm - 4pm. Click here FMI.


12th - The 54th annual Auburn Ski Association Ski Swap will be held on Sunday, November 12 from 9:00am - 2:00pm at Auburn Middle School off Court Street on Falcon Drive in Auburn. Keep an eye on their website for more info.


18th - Pinnacle Ski Club in Pittsfield has a ski swap annually the third Saturday in November from 9am–4pm Drop off items on the Friday before from 6pm–9pm. Keep an eye on their website for more info.


18th - Yarmouth Ski Club Ski Sale & Swap will be at Yarmouth Elementary School on Saturday, November 18th from 9am - 12pm. Equipment drop off Friday from 5pm - 8pm. Click here for more info.

18th-19thCamden Hills Regional High School Ski Sale Sale takes place Saturday from 9am - 1pm and Sunday from 10am - 1:30pm. Click here for more info.

25th - Downeast Ski Club ski sale is held annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Portland Expo. More info here.


25th - The Friends of Squaw Mountain will have a ski swap Saturday, November 25th from 10AM to 3PM at Greenville High School.

DECEMBER
2nd - Greely will have its annual ski swap and sale Saturday, December 2nd from 9am-1pm at Greely High School in Cumberland, Maine. FMI see mainehighschoolskiing.com

3rd - Falmouth will have its annual ski sale 9AM - 12PM at Falmouth Middle School. FMI see mainehighschoolskiing.com

As I receive confirmation of other 2017 swaps I will be updating this blog post. Feel free to comment on the post if you know of other Maine based swaps that are happening and I will update the list.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Freeport 2017 Ski Swap and Sale

It's ski swap season again! I will be getting my annual ski swap page up soon, but here is some information about a ski swap happening in my hometown of Freeport, Maine. 

2017 FREEPORT SKI BOOSTERS

SKI SWAP & SALE

Saturday, November 4th, 9:30 – 12:30

Freeport High School Gym

 30 Holbrook Street, Freeport, ME

Bigger and better than ever – so much stuff we’ve had to move into the gym!
It’s always a smart idea to get a jump on your gear situation at the beginning of every season. So take an inventory of what you have; make a list of what you need; and join us at the Freeport Ski Boosters Annual Ski Swap & Sale! We’ve again partnered with Sport Thoma – five times voted a Ski Magazine “Top 50 Ski Shops in the USA” – to bring you a HUGE selection of new and used equipment, gear, and accessories. So big of a selection we’ve outgrown our former digs and have moved to the FHS Gymnasium. So join us Saturday, November 4th from 9:30am-12:30 at the Freeport High School Gym and get your winter gear now while prices are low and choices are plentiful. It doesn’t matter if it’s gloves, goggles, boots, boards, skis, we’ll have it; but don’t wait or we won’t have it, and neither will you… See you on 11/4/17!


Donations & Consignments gladly accepted – drop off items Friday, November 3rd 4:00pm – 7:00pm or Saturday, November 4th  7:30am – 9:00 am at Freeport High School ski room (behind the school right next to the bus circle – look for the signs). Unsold consignment items can be picked up directly after the swap 1:00pm – 3:00pm. (Items left unclaimed will be considered donations.)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Observations on the Latest Saddleback Developments

What a week for Saddleback! The long rumored Australian buyer surfaced and the Majella group has executed an agreement with the Berry family to allow them to go full steam ahead in getting
Saddleback ready to ski again! The final deal closing is expected later this summer.
Warden's Worry at Saddleback


For those looking to catch up here are some observations / facts of the deal with some random thoughts thrown in:

Interesting mix of old and new, local and “from away” - As Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour said at the press conference “As you can see, I am truly from away. There are few places that are further from here than Australia.” How true this is. I went to Australia once. I left on a Wednesday afternoon and landed in Sydney on Friday morning with Thursday mysteriously vaporizing. However, Fred LaMontage who has long ties with the city of Portland along with former Saddleback finance director Greg Andrews and Rangeley real estate developer Perry Williams will be part of the new management team. And in my opinion in a very strong move Jim Quimby will come back as the on-mountain manager. I always thought the on-hill operations was run very well under Jim’s leadership and it is great to see him stay on with the new ownership group. I am sure we will some some familiar and new faces as the team rounds out. It is a good mix of old and new to bring Saddleback to the next chapter.

Be open to change - Mr. Monsour said at the press conference. “So we are making this commitment to you today that not only will we be turning Saddleback into the premier ski resort in North America, but also into a four-season resort that we know and all think it deserves to be.” This is a big statement. It will require capital and change. It will be interesting to see how the new ownership group will move forward on this goal. One of the reasons I loved Saddleback, affordable with rarely any significant lift lines and trails all to myself, is exactly the reason why it did not work as a business model. They need more skiers and more revenue... period. And to do that they need more entertainment, recreational and lodging offerings at the ski area. It is that simple. Us Saddlebacker’s need to be open to change, embrace it and know that without it, we will not be able to enjoy the mountain... and cross our fingers that we can still afford it!


First up - new lifts - They have already started the design process for lifts to replace the Rangeley Double and T-Bar. The Rangeley will be replaced with a fixed gripped quad (think Sugarloaf’s Skyline lift) and the T-Bar will get a new surface lift. Both solid replacements and the owners have decided not to go high-speed detachable.  I wonder if some of these older lifts will serve future expansion? Time will tell. Majella is sinking some major money in early… a good sign.


And be patient - The new ownership group is basically starting over. They have a mountain that has been shuttered for two years that they have to bring back to life. They have to hire staff, get marketing & the website setup, get food service setup, install two lifts and all that goes with that, get all the business permits, set up an accounting and HR system, get the ski school and rental shops going, interface with the condo associations and local businesses, and on and on and on. They have not committed to an opening date this year and I don’t blame them! As they said in the press conference “When our team has a date that ensures we can deliver to you the skiing experience that all of you deserve, you will know, and it’s as simple as that.” We have to take them at their word.


So this is an exciting time. The Saddleback Facebook page has come back to life and they are already engaging with their customers. There are a million questions that everyone has, their press release and FAQ answers a lot of them, but more questions and answers to come. It won’t be a perfect roll out, they admit as much, but they seem ready to dive in to make things happen and learn from their mistakes. I am very glad the people and businesses of Rangeley will have more places to work and more visitors to fill up the restaurants and lodging establishments.


The @MaineSkiFamily crew sincerely welcomes Majella group to Maine. We wish them all the best and we are looking forward to skiing our favorite Saddleback trails again when the time is right.


References:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

SADDLEBACK PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY JUNE 27, 2017

So a press conference is scheduled for Wednesday, June 27, 2017 at the SADDLEBACK MAINE base lodge where according to the Portland Press Herald in attendance will be "the resort’s sellers, Bill and Irene Berry, the future owners of the resort and representatives from Maine’s congressional delegation."
This is great news for the Rangeley region. My hope is that the lifts will spin again for the skiers and condo owners, people will be employed again at Saddleback and the Rangeley area restaurants and lodging establishments will be full this winter.
It is very likely that the good folks behind the Saddleback Mountain Foundation are not part of the new ownership group. Before it gets lost in the shuffle tomorrow - I want to personally send out a big thank you to Peter Stein and all the people behind the foundations effort. You kept the Saddleback spirit alive during these dark and trying times.
It will be interesting to hear the plans of the new ownership group. We will all find out together tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe... this winter will be the start of a new chapter at Saddleback.


Monday, March 20, 2017

First day of Spring - Plenty of Skiing Left

@ISalisbury Ripping Up the Fresh "Stella" Snow at Sugarloaf
I haven’t been posting as much on the blog this year as we have been relying on Twitter and Facebook to post about our Maine ski days. Since today is the first day of spring I thought this would be a good time post to the blog with an update on our adventures in 2017 and to remind everyone that there is plenty of great skiing still to be had this year!


@MaineSkiFamily Old Man Enjoying a Perfect March Day at Sugarloaf


We have had some really good ski days this year. Most recently at Sugarloaf, we skied the aftermath of “Winter Storm Stella” on Wednesday and had a perfect, bluebird March ski day on Sunday. These were two spectacular ski days that we will remember for a long time. Sugarloaf is set up well for the spring ski season with a deep base on their trails.


Skiing on our Boyne New England pass has been fun this year. We got some early season ski days in at Sunday River and skied a bunch of days at Sugarloaf. We also have hit up two of our favorite mid-sized mountains in Mt. Abram and Black Mountain of Maine.


Followers of this blog know that we significantly miss Saddleback of course. The second season in a row that the mountain has not been able to open. Some people have been able to hike the mountain and get some "earn your turn" ski runs in which is fun to see on social media. The Saddleback Mountain Foundation, a community group organized to purchase Saddleback, recently named a board of directors and are actively seeking to submit their 501 3(c) non-profit application. So there must be enough interest from the Saddleback current owners to keep this effort by the foundation moving forward? I hope there is a positive outcome for next ski season. Here is a link to the latest update from the foundation and keep an eye for a new foundation website launch soon at this URL.


I find spring skiing a lot of fun. I very much dislike mud season in the lowlands… but it is great to be able to escape to the mountains of Maine and carve up the soft spring corn snow. So don’t let the “first day of spring’ banter diminish your ski days! The sun is high and bright! The temperatures are comfortable and there is fun abound! March and April are great times to ski in Maine!